IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Camel's Nose Is in the Tent: Rules, Theories, and Slippery Slopes


  • Rizzo, M.J.


Slippery slopes have been the topic of a spate of recent literature. In this Article, the authors provide a general theory for understanding and evaluating slippery slope arguments (SSAs) and their associated slippery slope events (SSEs). The central feature of the theory is a structure of discussion within which all arguments take place. The structure is multi-layered, consisting of decisions, rules, theories, and research programs. Each layer influences and shapes the layer beneath: rules influence decisions, theories influence the choice of rules, and research programs influence the choice of theories. In this structure, SSAs take the form of meta-arguments, as they purport to predict the future development of arguments in the structure. Evaluating such arguments requires having knowledge of the specific content of the structure of discussion itself. The Article then presents four viable types of slippery slope argument, draws attention to four different factors that (other things equal) tend to increase the likelihood of slippery slopes, and explores a variety of strategies for coping with slippery slopes.

Suggested Citation

  • Rizzo, M.J., 2002. "The Camel's Nose Is in the Tent: Rules, Theories, and Slippery Slopes," Working Papers 02-05, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:02-05

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Darren Filson, 2001. "The Nature and Effects of Technological Change over the Industry Life Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 460-494, July.
    2. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The Resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 3-22, Fall.
    3. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Greenstein, Shane, 1999. "Technological Competition and the Structure of the Computer Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 1-40, March.
    4. Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
    5. Bart Hobijn, 2001. "Is equipment price deflation a statistical artifact?," Staff Reports 139, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    6. M. Ishaq Nadiri & Banani Nandi, 1999. "Technical Change, Markup, Divestiture, And Productivity Growth In The U.S. Telecommunications Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 488-498, August.
    7. Ohta, Makoto, 1975. "Production Technologies of the U.S. Boiler and Turbogenerator Industries and Hedonic Price Indexes for Their Products: A Cost-Function Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-26, February.
    8. Karl Whelan, 2002. "Computers, Obsolescence, And Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 445-461, August.
    9. Irwin, Douglas A & Klenow, Peter J, 1994. "Learning-by-Doing Spillovers in the Semiconductor Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1200-1227, December.
    10. Stavins, Joanna, 1997. "Estimating demand elasticities in a differentiated product industry: The personal computer market," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 347-367.
    11. Klepper, Steven, 1996. "Entry, Exit, Growth, and Innovation over the Product Life Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 562-583, June.
    12. Davis, Peter, 2000. "Empirical models of demand for differentiated products," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 993-1005, May.
    13. Charles R. Hulten & Edwin R. Dean & Michael J. Harper, 2001. "New Developments in Productivity Analysis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hult01-1, January.
    14. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Dale W. Jorgenson & Kevin J. Stiroh, 2000. "Raising the Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 31(1), pages 125-236.
    16. Peter Thompson & Doug Waldo, 2000. "Process Versus Product Innovation: Do Consumption Data Contain Any Information?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 155-170, July.
    17. John Norsworthy & Show-Ling Jang, 1993. "Cost Function Estimation of Quality Change in Semiconductors," NBER Chapters,in: Price Measurements and Their Uses, pages 125-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    19. Igal Hendel, 1999. "Estimating Multiple-Discrete Choice Models: An Application to Computerization Returns," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(2), pages 423-446.
    20. Stavins, Joanna, 1995. "Model Entry and Exit in a Differentiated-Product Industry: The Personal Computer Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(4), pages 571-584, November.
    21. Gort, Michael & Klepper, Steven, 1982. "Time Paths in the Diffusion of Product Innovations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 630-653, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:02-05. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anne Stubing). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.